General and specific

Burridge v Chief Magistrate [2018] ACTCA 43

An issue in this speeding case was under what provision a delegation of infringement notice functions should be made.  The driver said that, as it was done under a general power and not the specific one8, it was invalid – generalia specialibus9

The majority agreed, noting (at [60]) that ‘specific powers are needed for the exercise of the functions … going beyond the general power of delegation …’  Issues like this one need always to be resolved via purposive principles; in particular, s 15AA10 and hierarchy comments in Project Blue Sky11Burridge illustrates this wider frame of reference and that generalia specialibus is not applied mechanically.

This case is from Episode 42 of interpretationNOW!


8 ss 18 & 54 of the Road Transport (General) Act 1999 (ACT) respectively.

9 Pearce & Geddes (at [4.40]), Episode 14.

10 s 15AA of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901.

11 Project Blue Sky [1998] HCA 28 (at [70]), Episode 1.